Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

International and Foreign Tax Law Research Guide

This guide is a starting point for researching international and foreign tax law.

Model Bilateral Tax Treaties

Table of Contents

Brief Introduction

Model tax treaties serve as the starting point for negotiations between two countries.  Although model treaties are not legally binding, their language often is incorporated verbatim (or with only minor alterations) in the text of bilateral treaties.  Therefore, commentaries and technical explanations that aid in the interpretation of a model treaty also may shed light on the meaning of a treaty based on the model.

The United States promulgates model treaties on income tax, estate and gift tax, and the exchange of tax information.  The Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) and the United Nations also promulgate widely used model tax treaties.

The U.S., the U.N., the OECD, and other issuers of model tax treaties periodically publish updated and revised versions. Researchers should bear in mind that they may need to consult a superseded version of a model tax treaty rather than the current version.

Frequently Consulted Model Tax Treaties

  • OECD Model Tax Convention on Income and on Capital (condensed version)
    • Current and Prior Versions
    • Note: The OECD also has promulgated model convention on the exchange of information in tax matters, estate taxation, and on other tax-related subjects. Consult the tax research platforms described below to locate the texts of other OECD model treaties.
  • United Nations Model Double Taxation Convention Between Developed and Developing Countries (also known as the United Nations Model Income & Capital Tax Convention)
  • United States Model Income Tax Convention
    • 2016 Model Convention Text
    • 2016 Model Convention Preamble (highlights significant features and technical improvements)
    • 2016 Model Convention Technical Explanation
    • 2006 Model Convention Text
    • 2006 Model Convention Technical Explanation
    • 1996 Model Convention Text
    • 1996 Model Convention Technical Explanation
    • Note: The United States also has promulgated model conventions on estate and gift taxation and on the exchange of tax information. Consult the tax research platforms described below to locate the texts of other U.S. model treaties.

Model Treaties on Tax Research Platforms 

Coverage of model tax treaties varies considerably from platform to platform, particularly for superseded model treaties.  You may need to consult more than one platform to find the version of the model treaty that you are seeking.

  • Bloomberg Tax
    • Content:  Current and superseded model tax treaties issued by the U.S. and the OECD; current model treaties issued by the U.N., the Andean Community, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, and Russia (in English translation for non-English speaking jurisdictions); model agreements between the U.S. and other countries for the implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
    • Access:  The hyperlink above provides direct access to the content.
  • Checkpoint 
    • Content:  Current and superseded model treaties issued by the U.S. and the U.N.  
    • Access:  Select International Tax as the practice area on the left side of the homepage.  Then click on the + sign next to Tax Treaties under the heading Primary Source Materials.  Then hover your cursor over U.S. Tax Treaties (WG&L) and click on the book-shaped icon.  After the page refreshes, scroll down the alphabetical list and click on the + sign next to United Nations or United States to access their respective model treaties.
  • VitalLaw (formerly Cheetah)
    • Content:  Current and superseded model treaties issued by the U.S., the U.N., and the OECD.
    • Access:  Select Tax - International as the content.  After the page refreshes, click on the link to the U.S. Tax Treaties Reporter under the Tax Treaties heading.  After the page refreshes,  select Model Treaties, Other Agreements.  Then select Model Treaties.  Then select the desired model treaty.
  • IBFD Tax Research Platform 
    • Content:  Current and some superseded model treaties issued by the U.S., Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, and Russia, and by the U.N., the OECD, the Andean Community, ASEAN, and ILADT.  
    • Access:  Select Treaties & Models from the content menu below the search box.  Model treaties are arranged alphabetically by the name of the country or organization that issued them.  Use the filters on the left to narrow by jurisdiction, by subject, and other criteria.  To display only model treaties, select Model from the Document Type filter.  (You may need to click on + More Filters to access the Document Type filter.)
  • Rhoades & Langer:  U.S. International Tax Treaties
    • Content:  Current and prior versions of the U.S. Model Income Tax Convention and selected other U.S. model treaties.
    • Access:  Scroll down and open Appendix B to view model tax treaties.
    • Content:  Current and superseded model treaties issued by the U.S., the U.N., and the OECD.
    • Access:  From the Research Tools tab in the upper right-hand side of the homepage, click on Worldwide Tax Treaties.  On the left side of the following page, click on Model Conventions under the heading Models & Documents.  Use the pull-down menu to select the source of the model.